This interesting surname of French origin is a nickname for a handsome person, from the Northern dialect "bonnie" meaning "fine or beautiful", still a Scottish word, apparently a diminutive of the Old French "bon" meaning "good". The surname is found chiefly in Lancashire, the first recording of the surname dates back to the late 13th Century, (see below). In the modern idiom the surname has several variant spellings including Bonnyson, Bonnett, Bonnin, Bunnett, and Bonnet. Further recordings include one Agnes Bonny (1379), and Johannes Bunnay (1379) "The Poll Tax Records of Yorkshire". Church recordings include one Alice Bonnie who was christened on June 26th 1548, at Kirkham, Lancashire, Richard Bony who was christened on October 20th 1567, at St. Mary Whitechapel, London, and Elizabeth, daughter of Noye Bonney, was christened on December 29th 1590, at St. Ann's, Blackfriars, London. Elizabeth Bonny married Thomas Baker on August 23rd 1656, at St. Gregory by St. Paul, London. One Winey Bonny, aged 20, a famine emigrant, sailed from Dublin aboard the Fagan - Bealac bound for New York on May 17th 1847. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Agne Bonye, which was dated 1273, "The Hundred Rolls of Oxfordshire, during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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